British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, the author of the worldwide best-selling book A Brief History of Time and the subject of the Oscar-nominated film The Theory of Everything, has died. He was 76.
His children, Lucy, Robert and Tim confirmed the news to the BBC in a statement: “We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today. He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years.”
A child prodigy, Hawking began his storied academic career in 1950, entering Oxford University at the age of 17. Hawking was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 1963 at the age of 21. At the time, his doctors gave him a life expectancy of two years. He would defy medical science and go on to have a long and distinguished academic career at Cambridge University.
His condition gradually paralysed Hawking over decades and he was only able to communicate using a single cheek muscle attached to a speech-generating device. Despite his disability, Hawking became a leader in his field, becoming an expert on black holes and gave his name to the phenomenon of Hawking radiation.
He achieved worldwide fame when his book A Brief History of Time (1988) became a global bestseller and sold 10 million copies.
Hawking’s life was captured on the big screen in James Marsh’s 2014 film The Theory of Everything. The film starred Eddie Redmayne as Hawking and Felicity Jones played his first wife Jane Wilde Hawking. The movie was nominated for five Oscars, including best picture, with Redmayne winning best actor.
The movie was adapted by Anthony McCarten from Jane Wilde Hawking’s memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen.
Outside of academia, Hawking became something of a pop culture icon, known widely for his sense of humor as well as memorable appearances on The Simpsons and Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Hawking is survived by his three children including the journalist and novelist Lucy Hawking.
This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.